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Books: Photographer Chris Buck Examines the World of Strippers and their Significant Others

By David Schonauer   Thursday April 22, 2021


Relationships can be complicated.

And that may be especially true for the significant other of exotic dancers, notes photographer Chris Buck, whose new book Gentleman’s Club features portraits and stories of strippers and their partners. “Partners of dancers are in this inherently complicated space of dating someone who’s intimate with others for their work,” Buck told The New York Times recently.

Over the course of 6 years, added The New Yorker, Buck photographed 40 people who have built their lives with strippers, sometimes meeting them alone, while at other times the dancers posed for him, too, noted the magazine. His new book collects the portraits alongside extensive, interviews Buck did with his subjects — interviews, notes The New Yorker, that "probe the boundary between life and labor.”

“Tinted with jealousy, empathy, humor, and occasional heartbreak, their stories bring depth and warmth to a misunderstood profession,” adds TNY.


Buck, known for his portraits of politicians and celebrities, often elicits a “blinding candor” from his subjects, noted TNY.

“His portraits in Gentlemen’s Club embody the clashing realities of the strip club: posed but never unnatural, the pictures are, by turns, playful, tender, brazen, and inscrutable,” writes Dan Piepenbring. “One man, Jerrod—all of the subjects are referred to only by their first names—reclines on a bed wearing a leopard-print shirt that’s open down to his sternum. His girlfriend’s name, Gabriella, is tattooed over his heart, and he’s gazing almost seductively into the camera. He says that he understands the pleasure she might derive from her work.”


For many of his subject, Buck, 56, was the first person to pose such intimate questions, noted The Times.

“A number of times,” said Buck, “the partner would say, ‘My wife or girlfriend encouraged me to talk to you because they know I have no one else to talk to about this. It was framed as kind of therapeutic.”

One person told The Times that speaking for the book was an opportunity to “get rid of the stigma that strippers have no morals, come from a broken home, are cheap and dirty.”


When The New Yorker asked Buck whether he felt closer to understanding the ties that bind strippers and their partners, after so many years spent photographing them, he said, “Absolutely not.”

“It’s not like at the end of the book I have the answer. Gentlemen’s Club, in one sense, functions as a form of advocacy for sex workers, exploring their lives honestly and without varnish,” he said.

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